In today’s world we idolize our athletes, and rightfully so. They can do the physically daunting tasks that we couldn’t dream of doing at the level they are. We all grow up playing a sport in the little leagues while we dreamed of signing the next big contract with your favorite team. As kids, all we do is dream.
When we stepped into a back-yard batter’s box, we would point our bats out to center field just as the Babe did. When we played tag football in the street, everyone wanted to make the diving catch in the end zone (or just past the mailboxes in our case) to win the game. When we stepped onto the putting green after playing 9 with our dad, we pretend to be sinking the putt to seal the win at The Masters. We all dreamed of being a professional athlete.
Maybe that’s why we think so highly of them. But then why do we try to find every little thing they have done wrong to expose and tear them apart? We do the same with Hollywood stars. Is it jealousy? Is it because they get paid millions of dollars to play a game and we don’t? I think that has a little to do with it but I think that most of us do this to make us feel the need to show that even the “perfect” ones mess up.
Take Tiger Woods for example. Before the scandals that broke out after that Thanksgiving in 2009, Tiger was the best at the game that millions play. No doubt about it. He had won 14 major championships up until then and was at the top of his game. He was the reason that people turned on the TV and watched golf every weekend. And in everyone’s minds he was a genuinely nice person. Then all hell broke loose. Tiger’s love life was in the spotlight as he was being torn apart. Not that everything he did was right but who are we to judge. We know him as a golfer and shouldn’t that be all?
We all make mistakes just like professional athletes do. We are all human. We unfortunately believe that some of our heroes are invincible and are extremely disappointed when they mess up. Sure there are those athletes like Peyton Manning that we believe will never do anything to ruin his reputation, but that’s the same way people thought of O.J. Simpson, until June 14, 1994.
We all grow up loving our sports heroes. And there are a lot of athletes that do good things. Kevin Durant donated $1 million to relief help in the wake of the tornadoes in Oklahoma. Not all athletes are bad. For the most part they are good people. We hold them to higher standards and rightfully so because they are role models. But when we find small things, such as Maurice Jones-Drew punching a security guard, or Michael Pineda getting a DUI, we as a community blow it out of proportion and sometimes ruin someone’s career. Finding someone that will be good at what they do and has good character is what teams try to find in an athlete now. The whole world of sports has changed. Great athletes are everywhere now that kids are raised to be all-star athletes from early ages. But the real hunt is for the athlete that is good in both talent and character.